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18 Feb, 2008 19:52

First Kosovo... now South Ossetia & Abkhazia?

There are concerns that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence will have international repercussions. The Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia also want to determine their own future.

A day after Kosovo declared its independence, the leaders of Georgia's breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia held a news conference in Moscow.

They've asked Russia and the United Nations to recognise them as states.

Abkhazia's President says Kosovo's move creates a precedent for other disputed regions in the world.

“We have a special plan for independence, it’s a peaceful plan. We will turn to Russia, to the CIS leadership and international organisations to defend our right to independence. We understand that we will have to overcome a lot of obstacles,” Sergey Bagapsh, President of the self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia, said.    

Both regions went through violent conflicts with Georgia in the 1990s. The de-facto states believe they have a better justification than Kosovo for their independence to be internationally recognised.

“We resulted from the democratic disintegration of the Soviet Union. We took part in referendums and our nations expressed their will. We all acted in accordance with international law,” the South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoyty said.

Those referendums, though, did nothing to define the future of the republics.

“These conflicts have many things in common – separation from the state, military conflict, ethnic cleansing from both sides, and populations that want independence. It is hopeless to force Kosovars to live in Serbia, but it is also hopeless to force Abkhaz people for instance to live in Georgia. So the first get special treatment while the others are sent to negotiate with Saakashvili,” said Aleksey Makarkin, political analyst.

Meanwhile, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili doesn't see any similarities and says the step should not be allowed.